5 Beliefs that Can Prevent Happiness

Why do we spend so much time talking about what goes on inside our head? Because how we think directly affects what we do. Some of our deeply ingrained beliefs can prevent you from defining what makes you happy and taking the steps necessary to live a happier life.

5 Beliefs that Can Stop You from Being Happy

1. I have to be a good person.

There is no universal definition of what it means to be good. Trying to achieve (or maintain) such an ambiguous title is not only futile, but puts you in the position of constantly evaluating yourself based on what someone else may or may not think. It’s exhausting! Focus, instead, on living in line with specific values that matter to you.

2. I have to be responsible.

By whose standards? You might make the case that you can’t short sell your house because it would hurt your credit score, but a credit score isn’t all that important to people who don’t have debt and don’t plan to acquire debt (use credit) in the future. Maintaining a mortgage that prevents you from paying off other debts, saving, or living on a lower monthly income could arguably be the less responsible choice. Rid yourself of measuring sticks that aren’t clearly marked or are held by others.

3. People show how they feel about you with their actions.

Not necessarily. It’s dangerous to read too much into actions. How someone behaves may simply be a representation of their knowledge, communication skills, and emotional maturity. Spend less time analyzing how someone feels and more time clarifying how you want to be treated.

4. Quitters never win.

One of the times I quit smoking, my young son told me he was surprised because people “don’t normally quit things they’re good at.” The notion that quitters never win is taught at an early age, it seems, and it’s often a difficult lesson to unlearn when we get older. The fear of quitting, of changing course, may keep us stuck in situations that are no longer working. Whether or not our previous decisions were right or wrong is irrelevant. Make the most right decision you can today and have the courage to keep making new decisions when the time comes.

5. Being selfish is bad.

It’s OK to put yourself first, even if you’re a parent or spouse. You can be a loving person and still take responsibility for your own happiness, trusting and encouraging those you love to do the same. The “selfish” person to avoid is the one whose happiness must come at the expense of your own.

What beliefs are holding you back?

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  1. Nicole says:

    Ah, limiting beliefs! We have such a love/hate relationship. :) I have done extensive personal growth work and it always comes back to my feelings of worth. I stop myself from moving forward in certain goals because of that deep, deep programming that I'm not good enough. There's no need to go into detail for where that came from, but I work at it every day. AWESOME post, Britt!

  2. naomi says:

    One of my Super Silly beliefs is that if I'm too happy, content, others will judge me on my perfect life and wont want to be my friend. See? Super Silly, eh?

  3. Leslie says:

    All five of these. Did you write this just for me? Lately I've let the belief that quitters never win get in my way. Over and over, I hang on too long. Or I invest in things I shouldn't have started in the first place because of the belief that by saying no or opting out, I'm missing an opportunity. I had convinced myself that this was bravery – saying yes to life and taking on any challenge thrown in my direction. My mantra, "I'm not afraid of hard work!" The truth is, I've made some bad decisions and wasted some valuable time and resources. And because I have to be a good and responsible person, I've been feeling stuck. I love this post. It has me thinking.

  4. Nanna says:

    To Naomi – actually, that one is really common. Like, we have to have at least SOME crap in our lives, so we can be liked everyone else, right? I vividly remember hiding my returned assignments so no one would see the A's and be mad at me. AS A KID, yo!

  5. Megan says:

    This will make you laugh. I read all the way down to "Quitters never win," thinking I was reading Gretchen Rubin's site. Then I read that paragraph and thought, Gretchen doesn't have a son… So there's that. :DLook at this way: Gretchen clerked for Sandra Day O'Connor and went to law school at Yale and I couldn't tell the difference between her writing and yours. It's a compliment really. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

  6. Robin says:

    Another one that affects me – EVERYONE has to like you and/or in order to be successful you have to be likable. Maybe that's more related to #1 than I realize. I am learning that being likable is relative to so many things and most of them have nothing to do with me. Being likable to myself and the people that matter to me is way more important. Throughout your journey, people who will love you and support you always will. It's as simple as that.

  7. love, love, love this line: "Rid yourself of measuring sticks that … are held by others."AMEN!

  8. Amanda says:

    This is wonderful. I especially like #4. There have been quite a few times that I've stuck with something just because I didn't want to be a "quitter." Meanwhile, I was feeling unhappy and stuck and should have moved on!

  9. Very nice list with great focus and clarity

  10. Liz says:

    I'm having a hard time coming to grips with being selfish and it not being a bad thing. I know why I'm not happy. I'm just not sure what to do about it.

  11. I loved to read your happiness ingredients. The only thing is that being able to live according to our ow values ad rules requires a certain amount of self-assurance that many people lack. However, I love your thought of ridding oneself of other's measuring sticks, sound so very good. :)

  12. Audra says:

    I want to reprint this on a little card for my wallet. Well stated. "Rid yourself of measuring sticks that aren't clearly marked or are held by others." YES! YES! YES! The majority of my childhood was spent saying goodbye to one dream or another because my parents weren't on board. When I wanted to sell my first house, my father was against the idea and claimed it was a bad one. But he's only ever bought one house and that was way back in 1973! Why should I take his advice as gospel truth?

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